|Publication number||US7909360 B2|
|Application number||US 12/232,915|
|Publication date||Mar 22, 2011|
|Filing date||Sep 25, 2008|
|Priority date||Sep 26, 2007|
|Also published as||US20090096192|
|Publication number||12232915, 232915, US 7909360 B2, US 7909360B2, US-B2-7909360, US7909360 B2, US7909360B2|
|Inventors||Brandon Scott Marriott, Thomas Wayne Messner|
|Original Assignee||Tk Holdings Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (19), Referenced by (6), Classifications (7), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/960,350, filed Sep. 26, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
The present application relates generally to the field of airbags in vehicles. More specifically, the present application relates generally to the field of side airbags in buses, motor-coaches, or other passenger vehicles.
While occupants of a bus have effective protection strategies in place to protect them in case of a front or rear impact collision event, they currently have limited protection during side impact collision events. Occupant protection in a side impact crash event is usually limited to seatbelts and the structure of the bus itself. Occupants seated in rows of seats that are directly in the line of impact during a side impact collision may suffer significant injuries due to the lack of protection available.
Specifically for school buses, there is no current approach of protection that adequately protects occupants during a side impact collision event. The rule of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 222 was established for school buses to provide protection to occupants in a frontal or rear impact crash, using compartmentalization. Compartmentalization uses closely spaced and well padded seats to protect the occupants in a collision, but this approach may not help protect the occupant in a side impact collision sufficiently.
Seat-mounted side airbags have not been applied in buses for a variety of reasons. The unique inner geometry of a bus (high bench beats, unique seat spacing, etc.) has created difficulty designing a side airbag that adequately protects the occupants of a bus. The location of the side airbag within the seat of a bus must be carefully chosen to avoid discomfort for the occupants. Specifically for school buses, a side airbag module that complies with FMVSS 222 is needed, while avoiding compromising the protection compartmentalization offers in a front or rear impact collision. Also, the deployment of the side airbag must be capable of protecting full-size occupants, yet satisfying the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Technical Working Group” (TWG) out-of-position (OOP) occupant test protocols, which are in place to protect smaller occupants of a bus. Additionally, a tamper resistant design is needed to prevent damage to and preserve the side airbag module.
One embodiment relates to a seat assembly for a bus or motor-coach. The seat assembly comprises a bus seat with a seat bottom and a seat back, and a side airbag module. The side airbag module includes a side airbag attached to the seat back and is configured to protect an occupant on the bus seat.
Another exemplary embodiment provides a bus or motor-coach with an airbag assembly. The bus or motor-coach comprises a plurality of bus seats with each seat including a seat bottom and a seat back, a side airbag module mounted to each of the plurality of bus seats, a plurality of sensors configured to detect a collision event, and a side airbag control module configured to determine which side airbag modules to deploy based on information received from the plurality of sensors. The control module is configured to selectively deploy one or more of the side airbag modules.
Yet another exemplary embodiment provides an airbag module for a bus seat. The airbag module comprises a side airbag mounted to a bus seat, an inflator for inflating the side airbag, and a cover component comprising an upper cover and lower cover configured to cover the side airbag in an uninflated state. The inflator includes exit orifices that are embedded in the side airbag.
It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only, and are not restrictive of the invention as claimed.
These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, appended claims, and the accompanying exemplary embodiments shown in the drawings, which are briefly described below.
One disclosed embodiment relates to a side airbag module that deploys during a side impact collision event. The side airbag installed within or mounted to the seat the occupant is residing may be designed to protect part or all of the occupant's body. According to an exemplary embodiment, the side airbag module may be installed in a bus, motor coach, or other suitable vehicle. The side airbag module may be used in conjunction with other occupant safety devices, such as seatbelt retractors or curtain airbags.
A side impact collision may be caused by various events. For example, the bus 10 tipping on its side (e.g. a rollover) is a type of a side impact collision event despite no outside object coming in contact with the bus 10. A side impact collision may also be caused by various objects colliding with the bus 10, whether it be another vehicle, a projectile, etc. The bus 10 includes a plurality of seats 15 arranged in rows, such as shown in
The side airbag modules 20 located on an outer portion of each seat 15 of the bus 10, according to an exemplary embodiment. The side airbag modules are located inside the bus 10 embedded within or onto a seat 15, according to an exemplary embodiment. According to other exemplary embodiments, the side airbag modules 20 may be located on the inner wall 17 of the bus 10.
Each side airbag module 20 may contain a sensor 32, which may be used to detect a side collision event. If a particular sensor 32 detects a side collision event that is deemed to potentially cause injury to the occupant(s) 12 in the respective seat 15, the sensor 32 sends a signal to the control module 30 to determine if one or more side airbags 40 should be deployed. The control module 20 then sends a signal to the appropriate side airbag module(s) 20 to deploy them.
According to an exemplary embodiment, each individual sensor 32 may correspond to a single side airbag module 20. According to other exemplary embodiments, each individual sensor 32 may correspond to multiple side airbag modules 20, or multiple sensors 32 may correspond to a single side airbag module 20. As shown in
As illustrated in
The high pressure chamber 36 may be positioned lower than the lower pressure chamber 24. As shown in
According to an exemplary embodiment, the coverage area 38 of a side airbag 40 can range from approximately 820 to 970 square inches. According to other exemplary embodiments, the coverage area 38 of a side airbag 40 can vary based on other factors. For example, if a side airbag “curtain” system is used to protect the upper body of an occupant 12 is used in conjunction with the side airbag module 20 located on the seat 15, the coverage area 38 of the side airbag 40 located on the seat 15 may be reduced (e.g. approximately from 325 to 450 square inches). The coverage area 38 may be altered by the distance the seat 15 is from a window, the angle or incline of the seat 15, the height of the windows of the bus 10, the distance in between seats 15, seat length, or any other geometric property of a bus 10 or its components.
Due to the unique dimensions of a bus 10, there is limited area in which to install a side airbag module 20 in order to properly deploy and cover a specified space. The side airbag 40 may be deployed directionally (e.g. at an angle) in order to sufficiently cover a space. The side airbag 40 within the side airbag module 20 may be folded in such a way that minimizes the space the side airbag module 20 takes up.
The side airbag module 20 may be located such that the side airbag module 20 does not naturally come into contact with an occupant 12 occupying seat 15. The side airbag module 20 may be placed such that the occupant 12 of seat 15 may comfortably sit in the seat 15, yet provide sufficient to the occupant 12 protection when deployed. According to various embodiments, the airbag cushion 40 design, the fold pattern of the airbag 40 when stowed, the seat mounting scheme, module 20 construction, and the size of the inflator 62 may all be chosen as appropriate in order to limit potential discomfort for the occupant 12 of the vehicle 10. The door 42 may be plastic or another material that does not cause discomfort for the occupant 12 of the vehicle should the occupant 12 come in contact with the side airbag module 20.
The inflator 62 is coupled to the side airbag 40 and is responsible for inflating the side airbag 40 when the command to deploy the side airbag 40 is issued from the control module 30. Side impact collision events may have high intrusion rates. Therefore, the inflator 62 may be designed to rapidly inflate the side airbag 40 in a short period of time to ensure a timely deployment. Buses 10 also require greater “coverage zones” by an individual airbag 40 in order to cover a greater amount of space. The inflator 62 may be designed to have an appropriate size-to-performance ratio to inflate the side airbag 40 to the proper pressure and size in an allotted time without compromising the side airbag module 20 design or occupant safety.
The inflator 62 may also be designed to keep the pressure of the side airbag 40 or airbags 40 at a proper level for an extended period of time. For example, if the bus 10 has a rollover event, the side airbags 40 may need to stay inflated for a significant amount of time. The inflator 62 may be designed to continuously inflate the airbags 40 as needed. The inflator 62 exit orifices 68 may be embedded into the side airbag 40 itself, so that efficiency concerns with the inflator 62 are mitigated and the integrity of the side airbag 40 is preserved. For example,
The diffuser 61 may be coupled to the side airbag 40 and may be responsible for distributing the air in the side airbag 40 such that the distribution of air is balanced. This process may be adjusted to produce various air pressures in various locations within an airbag (see
The upper cover 63 and the lower cover 64 may be secured around the perimeter of the side airbag 40, according to an exemplary embodiment. If the side airbag 40 is installed on the outside of the seat 15, the use of the covers 63 and 64 may be highly useful to prevent undesired access to the module 20. The covers 63 and 64 may be injection-molded, according to an exemplary embodiment. The covers 63 and 64 may fit around the side airbag 40 and cover the side airbag 40 completely, which may prevent tampering and protect the side airbag 40 from other potential obstructions. The upper cover 63 and the lower cover 64 may “lock” into place against each other using latches, holes, or other fastening materials. The covers 63, 64 separate upon inflation of the airbag 40. Alternatively, the cover may include a frangible tear seam through which the side airbag 40 deploys. The covers 63 and 64 may also be fastened to a sturdy material within the seat 15, according to various exemplary embodiments.
The use of the upper cover 63 and the lower cover 64 may be optional. For example, if the side airbag is installed inside of the seat, the use of the covers 63 and 64 may be space-consuming.
The side airbag module 20 may be secured to the seat 15 in various ways. According to one exemplary embodiment, brackets 65 may be used to hold the side airbag module 20 in place during both a stowed state and a deployed state. The bracket 65 may latch on to the covers 63 and 64 if the covers are included in the side airbag module 20. The bracket 65 may also be coupled to the side airbag 40 directly, securing the side airbag 40 during deployment. The bracket 65 may be attached to the seat 15 in a variety of ways. For example, two nuts 66 may be used to hold the bracket 65 in place against a sturdy material inside the seat 15, such as the frame.
Clamps 67 may also be used to help secure the side airbag module 20. The clamps 67 may be secured to either the side airbag 40 or the inflator 62, according to an exemplary embodiment. The clamps 67 may be designed in a round fashion to fit around a cylindrical inflator 62. The clamps 67 may be fastened to the seat 15 in a variety of ways. For example, nuts 66, screws, or other fasteners may be used to fasten the clamps 67 to a sturdy material within the seat 15. The methods in which the side airbag module 20 may be fastened within the seat 15 of a bus 10 may vary according to various exemplary embodiments, and the method of securing the side airbag module 20 may not be limited to the use of brackets 65 or clamps 67.
As shown in
The side airbag module 20 may be designed to comply with the out-of-position (“OOP”) child testing protocols developed by the IIHS-sponsored TWG. The protocols relate to providing minimum risk to smaller seat occupants in a vehicle. Additionally, the design of the side airbag module 20 may be altered for modules 20 that are to be installed in school buses.
The various components of the side airbag module 20 may be packed strategically to avoid occupant discomfort. Rigid or semi-rigid components (e.g. the plastic covers, the metal inflator, etc.) of the side airbag module 20 may be positioned a distance D between approximately zero millimeters and 500 millimeters about the seat bight line 80, which can prevent the occupant 12 from feeling discomfort in the head or shoulder area, according to an exemplary embodiment. As shown in
It is important to note that the construction and arrangement of the side airbag module as shown in the various exemplary embodiments is illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g., variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, colors, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter disclosure herein. For example, elements shown as integrally formed may be constructed of multiple parts or elements, the position of elements may be reversed or otherwise varied, and the nature or number of discrete elements or positions may be altered or varied. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present application. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the exemplary embodiments.
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|U.S. Classification||280/730.2, 280/728.2, 280/743.1|
|Cooperative Classification||B60R21/207, B60R2021/2076|
|Dec 19, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: TK HOLDINGS INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MARRIOTT, BRANDON SCOTT;MESSNER, THOMAS WAYNE;REEL/FRAME:022019/0736
Effective date: 20080926
|Sep 18, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4